Gov't seeks budget hike for climate change programs

The government is seeking a 30-percent hike in its budget to implement the convergence program on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in 2021, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

The Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR), chaired by the DENR, said the Duterte administration submitted its proposal to Congress for the allotment of P152.35 billion for the Risk Resiliency Program (RRP).

The amount is roughly 30 percent higher than the P117 billion allocated for the program this year, it added.

The increase was due to alignment of programs and activities to the priority policies, strategies and projects of the Inter-Agency Task Force Technical Working Group on Anticipatory and Forward Plan for the “new normal” in the CCAM-DDR sector.

DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change Analiza Rebuelta-Teh said the proposed funding will be used to build resilient and sustainable communities as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

“We are still in the midst of a health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country needs programs that will strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacities of its communities, especially in climate-vulnerable provinces and major urban centers,” Rebuelta-Teh said.

The RRP aims to increase the adaptive capacities of vulnerable communities; ensure the adequate supply of clean air, water, and other natural resources; increase the resilience of critical infrastructures; and enhance knowledge, access to information and institutional capacities of communities.

For next year, the RRP will prioritize 14 climate-vulnerable provinces, which vary in risk factors of rise in sea levels, extreme rainfall and heating events, increased ocean temperature and disturbed natural resources supply.

The provinces are Masbate, Sorsogon, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

The program also covers four major urban centers—Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo and Metro Davao.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier said addressing climate change remains a top priority of the government amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Cimatu pointed out that climate emergency is “just in slow motion and much graver” than COVID-19 as it potentially poses existential risks for future generations.

“The government—through the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR—will prioritize actions and investments that will reduce the long term health impacts and increase our resilience and adaptive capacity to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change,” he said.

Aside from DENR, other members of the Cabinet Cluster included in the proposed budgetary proposal, are the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense-Office of Civil Defense, Department of Science and Technology, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Energy, the Climate Change Commission, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Public Works and Highways.